BCAB #1465 - Wheelchair Ramp to Playing Field, 3.7.2.17.(1)(b)(i) & (v) and Access Route for Fire Department Vehicles, 3.2.5.5. to 7

June 17, 1998

BCAB #1465

Re: Wheelchair Ramp to Playing Field, 3.7.2.17.(1)(b)(i) & (v) and Access Route for Fire Department Vehicles, 3.2.5.5. to 7

Project Description

The project in question is a new school building constructed to replace the portion of an existing school destroyed by fire. The new building is one storey and approximately 900 sq m. A firewall is included which creates a separate building of 725 sq m in building area. The playing field in item 1 above is several feet above the floor level of the school.

Reason for Appeal

  1. Sentence 3.7.2.17.(1) states that "Non-residential schools ... shall have ... within each building, access to all educational facilities ... and areas where work functions can reasonably be expected to be performed by disabled persons ... . Article 3.7.3.19. requires safe egress for disabled persons either by accessible exits or protected areas of refuge.
  2. The school is classified as facing two streets. The existing portion is served by an existing driveway and parking lot. The new portion is 56 m+ from another street with a playground intervening. As the building area exceeds 600 sq m in building area fire department vehicle access is required to within 15 m of the building (3.2.5.5. & 6).

Appellant's Position

  1. The appellant contends that a wheelchair ramp designed and built to access the upper level playing fields from the main entrance to the new building is required by Sentences 3.7.2.17.(1) and (3). Clause 3.7.2.17.(1)(b)(i) requires access from within the school to all educational and recreational facilities which should include the playing fields. Clause 3.7.2.17.(1)(b)(v) requires access to areas where disabled persons could reasonably be expected to work. This should include the playing fields as a disabled person could be employed as an athletics coach or physical education instructor. Sentence 3.7.2.17.(3) requires safe egress for disabled persons in accordance with Article 3.7.3.19. which describes several types of areas of refuge. The appellant has chosen the playing field as a "an acceptable open space accessible from an exterior exit door." To make the playing fields accessible a ramp was needed. The other route to an acceptable space passes by windows and was not considered safe.
  2. The school is designed to face two streets and the appellant considered that the existing grassed playground was inadequate as the second street because it was susceptible to water saturation in the fall and winter and there was no hard paving for a fire vehicle. When all factors were considered the most economic method of providing the required fire department vehicle access was to pave the entire play area.

Building Official's Position

The building official maintains that the code does not require a wheelchair ramp to the playground. The code only requires access to educational and recreational facilities and work areas "within" the building, not exterior facilities. Safe egress for disabled persons is provided by exit doors directly to the exterior from each classroom and via corridors leading to sidewalks where it is possible to go in two directions away from the building.

The building official did not consider the improvement of the fire department vehicle access to be a necessary Building or Fire Code upgrade for this fire damage rebuild project. The existing access was considered to be adequate.

Appeal Board Decision #1465

It is the determination of the Board, based on the fact there is mutual agreement between the parties that the original construction was completely destroyed by fire and that the re-construction, which included a new firewall, must be considered a new building and therefore should comply with the requirements of the B.C. Building Code.

The playing field is considered to be an ancillary area as outlined in Article 3.7.3.1. and must therefore be accessible to at least one main entrance of the building. Similarly, a fire department access route must be provided to the new building which complies with the requirements outlined in Subsection 3.2.5.

George R. Humphrey, Chair